PAC-12 POWER RANKINGS
1. Washington State (3): No Pac-12 team is playing better right now than the Cougars, who have won seven of nine since season-opening loss to Portland State.
2. Oregon (6): Vernon Adams doing his best to put happy ending on turbulent season with Ducks.
3. Stanford (1): CFP hopes still exist (sort of), but focus now should be on getting to the Rose Bowl.
4. USC (5): Win their final two games (at Oregon, vs. UCLA) and Trojans will be Pac-12 South champs.
5. Utah (2): Utes went from CFP contenders to needing help just to play for Pac-12 title.
6. UCLA (4): Bruins play at Utah this week, if they’re not still busy whining about officiating in loss to WSU.
7. Arizona (10): Hasn’t been a fun season for Wildcats, but upset over Utah at least clinched bowl eligibility.
8. California (7): In his third season, Sonny Dykes will coach the Golden Bears in a bowl game.
9. Arizona State (9): Eight Pac-12 teams got bowl eligible before the Sun Devils, who still need one more win to get to six.
10. Washington (8): Huskies have lost 10 in a row vs. ASU, but Saturday’s collapse was most baffling.
11. Colorado (11): Trying to avoid ending the season on a 5-game losing streak.
12. Oregon State (12): With injuries and bad losses piling up, Beavers just need this season to end.
PAC-12 COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
1. Mike Leach, Washington State
Team record: 7-3 overall, 5-2 in Pac-12
Comment: After a season-opening loss to Portland State had some wondering if Leach should even be coaching the Cougars anymore, he has led maybe the most remarkable turnaround in the country this year. WSU will play in a bowl game for just the second time since 2003, sophomore quarterback Luke Falk is a fringe Heisman candidate, junior receiver Gabe Marks might win the Biletnikoff Award, and first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has turned WSU’s defense into a capable bunch — and WSU’s only two Pac-12 losses came by a combined eight points.
2. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Team record: 8-2 overall, 5-2 in Pac-12
Comment: Utah went 9-4 last season and returned several key players, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to expect the Utes to be pretty tough this season. But they were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South in the preseason media poll, so few likely imagined they would be 8-2 and a fixture in the national rankings. And they’ve done it without a great offense, which is never an easy feat in this conference. Give Whittingham credit for building Utah into a legitimate Pac-12 program.
3. David Shaw, Stanford
Team record: 8-2 overall, 7-1 in Pac-12
Comment: Last week’s loss to Oregon aside, Shaw and Stanford again reloaded after losing several key defensive players. And the Cardinal did it mostly with a balanced offense featuring do-it-all back Christian McCaffrey and fifth-year senior quarterback Kevin Hogan. Just when it looked like Stanford might be about to take a step back, it improved yet again and needs only to beat California to win the Pac-12 North.